Quark Expeditions Continues Sustainability Strategy in the Polar Regions

Quark Expeditions has unveiled a sustainability strategy it calls Polar Promise. The strategy advances existing initiatives aimed at improving environmental and social outcomes in the polar regions, and provides a cohesive plan, the company stated. The strategy is said to translate ongoing and newly-announced efforts into concrete, measurable goals and sustainable outcomes to be achieved by 2025.

“Quark Expeditions recognizes its responsibility to do more to protect these magnificent places,” said Andrew White, president of Quark, in a prepared statement. “We want to go beyond reducing our footprint. We want to work with other leaders in the industry and with our guests to address the really complex issues facing the polar regions.”

“This is a journey and our strategy demonstrates our commitment by setting goals until 2025. We believe sustainable business is central to our license to operate in these regions and we hope to bring our partners and guests on the journey with us,” White added.

Quark Expeditions, which is approaching its 30th anniversary year, said it has a history of being committed to sustainable tourism. In 2017, the company all but eliminated single use plastics by providing guests with reusable water bottles, and outfitting cabins with soap and shampoo dispensers. Additionally, by eliminating the unnecessary plastic packaging from supplied parkas, nearly 10,000 plastic bags were eliminated.

In the first half of the Antarctic 2019 season alone, Quark said it diverted 270 cubic meters (about the size of 2 ½ humpback whales) of plastic, papers and glass as part of the SeaGreen initiative. It is one of 22 founding cruise operators in the SeaGreen recycling pilot program.

The company has also worked with the South Georgia Heritage Trust since 2011 to deliver a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to eradicate millions of introduced rodents that were consuming the eggs and chicks of seabirds and endemic birds of South Georgia.

Polar Promise is broken into four focus areas: Embedding sustainability goals and targets into Quark’s business strategy and staff incentives. Measuring and reporting on the strategy. Helping the company’s supply chain to engage with sustainable practices and policies.  And continued leadership and active membership of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).

Reducing its footprint and building resilience, Quark said it is:  Measuring, reporting and reducing carbon emissions; partnering to develop waste solutions in communities and ports where it operates, such as the SeaGreen recycling initiative in Ushuaia: developing a zero waste roadmap, building on the company’s single use plastic free operations; and deploying new technologies to reduce waste in its fleet, such as the MAGS waste system.

Other efforts include outreach and impact in polar environments, such as collaborating on training and employment opportunities in the Arctic, including the Inuit Cruise Training Initiative; continuing to invest in research partnerships and citizen science projects in the Arctic and Antarctic, in-kind and direct support of groups such as Polar Bears International and Penguin Watch; and continued support to UN Clean Seas and close liaison with AECO and IAATO to find opportunities to advance their mission and find new collaboration opportunities.

Quark also referred to what it calls the polar legacy, making positive impact exponential, that is, understanding the transformational power of the polar regions to build advocacy with its guests; and understanding that the positive benefits of bringing people to the polar regions outweigh any impact of taking people there, “that we put in more than we take out.”

Furthermore, Quark stated that it supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which guide businesses towards the goal of achieving a sustainable society in 2030, and that the SDGs are core to this holistic sustainability framework.

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